Use of biolumescent bacteria, Xenorhabdus luminescens, to measure predation on bacteria by freshwater microflagellates

Dianne B. Seale, Martin E. Boraas, Dale Holen, Kenneth H. Nealson

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Ligh emitted by the bioluminescent bacterium, Xenorhabdus luminescens (isolated from a nematode host), can be measured to monitor reductions of these bacteria in the presence of phagotrophs. X. luminescens is relatively large (0.6 ¢ 3 μm), but comparable in size to many cyanobacteria. We used the light emission method to examine phagotroph feeding on X. luminescens using uni-specific cultures of two chrysomonads, Ochromonas sp. and Spulemma sp. From light decay rates in control and experimental vials, we computed an apparent filtration rate (FR); then, for a concentration (C) of 1 · 106 bacteria ml-1, we estimated capture rate (CR) as FR · C. The Ochromonas sp. did not ingest the bacterium. The maximum estimated FR for Spumella, observed at 6.0 · 103 flagellates ml-1 (medium density), was 0.37 ml h-1, for a volume-specific clearance rate (FR/cell volume) of 7.9 · 105 h-1 and a CR of 62 bacteria · flagellate-1 h-1. Video microscopy indicated these were accurate estimates of capture rates. Microscopic counts were used to monitor growth of a flagellate, Spumella sp., on X. luminescens as the sole food supply. The flagellate doulbed in number every 3.2, while consuming bacteria at a rate of 23 bacteria flagellate-1 h-1. The Spumella grazed the bacteria to a minimum of 5 · 105 cells ml-1, a concentration comparable to observed field densities of other bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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